Lesson 3: Mythology

Now that we've learned about the Mother and Father, both in general and some specifics, let's look at some of the myths and legends surrounding Them.

First off, let's define mythology. A myth is defined as a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.

Now that that's out of the way, let's take a look at a couple of myths.

The Legend of the Descent of the Goddess

In ancient times, our Lord, the Horned One, was (as he still is) the Controller, the Comforter. But men know him as the dread Lord of Shadows, lonely, stern, and just.

But our Lady the Goddess oft grieved deeply for the fate of her creations as they aged and died. She would solve all mysteries, even the mystery of death, and so journeyed to the underworld.

The Guardian of the Portals challenged her: "Strip off thy garments, lay aside thy jewels; for naught may you bring with you into this our land, for it is written that your True Self is the only fitting adornment for those in the realms of Death.”

So she laid down her garments and her jewels, and was bound, as all living must be who seek to enter the realms of Death, the Mighty One.

Such was her beauty that Death himself knelt, and laid his sword and crown at her feet, and kissed her feet, saying: "Blessed be thy feet that have brought thee in these ways. Abide with me; but let me place my cold hand on thy heart.”

And she replied: "Why do you cause all things that I love, and take delight in, to fade and die?”

"Lady," replied Death, "it is age and fate, against which I am helpless. Age causes all things to wither; but when men die at the end of time, I give them rest and peace and strength, so that they may return. But you, you are lovely. Return not, abide with me.”

And she replied, "Nay, I love thee not and I am needed in the world of the living.”

Again Death knelt, and kissed her knees, saying: "Blessed be thy knees that kneel before the Altar. Abide with me; let me place my cold hand on thy heart.”

And she replied, "Nay, I love thee not and I am needed in the world of the living.”

Death, still kneeling, kissed her on the womb, saying: "Blessed be thy organs of generation, without which none of us would be. Abide with me; let me place my cold hand on thy heart.”

And she replied, "Nay though I feel the beginnings of love for thee, I must return to those I fully love in the world of creation.”

Death then stood, and kissed her on the breast, saying: “Blessed be thy breast, formed in strength and beauty. Abide with me; let me place my cold hand on thy heart.”

And she replied, "Nay though I feel love for thee, I must not abandon those I am responsible for, in the world of creation. I cannot do this thing, better you would return with me.”

"Lady,” replied Death, “It cannot be so. If I were to leave my realm, and abandon those who seek their comfort and rest with me, then the Wheel would no longer turn. Age and weakness would overtake those whom you love, and they would have nowhere to find rest, and peace, and reunion with those who have gone before. As age and debility overtook your creations, there would quickly be no room for the new, only the withered, the tired, and the stagnant.” He then kissed her lips, saying: "Blessed be thy lips, which shall utter the Holy Names. Abide with me; let me place my cold hand on thy heart.” And she replied, “Let us both lay our hands, each unto the heart of the other, thereby claiming and uniting each unto the other. In this way may I rule my kingdom of birth, creation, and life; yet share with you your kingdom of death, rejuvenation, and rest. United in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust, that the Universe may be whole and the Wheel turn smoothly.”

Death replied, "This is indeed wisdom, So Mote it Be!” They embraced, thus pledging their eternal love.

And he taught her all his mysteries, and gave her the necklace which is the circle of rebirth. And she taught him her mystery of the sacred cup which is the cauldron of rebirth.

They loved, and were one; for there be three great mysteries in the life of mankind, and magic controls them all. To fulfill love, you must return again at the same time and at the same place as the loved ones; and you must meet, and know, and remember, and love them again.

But to be reborn, you must die, and be made ready for a new body. And to die, you must be born; and without love, you may not be born. And our Goddess is ever inclined to love, and mirth, and happiness; and guards and cherishes her hidden children in life, and in death she teaches the way to her communion; and even in this world she teaches them the mystery of the Magic Circle, which is placed between the worlds of men and of the Gods.

And thus we are taught of the beginnings of the wheel of the year wherein the Lord and the Lady share their rulership of the year, each offering and sharing a balance to the other, and the basis of that sharing.

The Bath

It was midday, and the sun stood equally distant from either goal, when young Actaeon, son of King Cadmus, thus addressed the youths who with him were hunting the stag in the mountains:
"Friends, our nets and our weapons are wet with the blood of our victims; we have had sport enough for one day, and tomorrow we can renew our labors. Now, while Phoebus parches the earth, let us put by our instruments and indulge ourselves with rest."

There was a valley thickly enclosed with cypresses and pines, sacred to the huntress-queen, Artemis. In the extremity of the valley was a cave, not adorned with art, but nature had counterfeited art in its construction, for she had turned the arch of its roof with stones as delicately fitted as if by the hand of man. A fountain burst out from one side, whose open basin was bounded by a grassy rim. Here the goddess of the woods used to come when weary with hunting and lave her virgin limbs in the sparkling water.

One day, having repaired thither with her nymphs, she handed her javelin, her quiver, and her bow to one, her robe to another, while a third unbound the sandals from her feet. Then Crocale, the most skillful of them, arranged her hair, and Nephele, Hyale, and the rest drew water in capacious urns. While the goddess was thus employed in the labors of the toilet, behold, Actaeon, having quitted his companions, and rambling without any especial object, came to the place, led thither by his destiny. As he presented himself at the entrance of the cave, the nymphs, seeing a man, screamed and rushed towards the goddess to hide her with their bodies. But she was taller than the rest, and over topped them all by a head. Such a color as tinges the clouds at sunset or at dawn came over the countenance of Artemis thus taken by surprise. Surrounded as she was by her nymphs, she yet turned half away, and sought with a sudden impulse for her arrows. As they were not at hand, she dashed the water into the face of the intruder, adding these words: "Now go and tell, if you can, that you have seen Artemis unapparelled."

Immediately a pair of branching stag's horns grew out of his head, his neck gained in length, his ears grew sharp-pointed, his hands became feet, his arms long legs, his body was covered with a hairy spotted hide. Fear took the place of his former boldness, and the hero fled. He could not but admire his own speed; but when he saw his horns in the water, "Ah, wretched me!" he would have said, but no sound followed the effort. He groaned, and tears flowed down the face that had taken the place of his own. Yet his consciousness remained. What shall he do? Go home to seek the palace, or lie hid in the woods? The latter he was afraid, the former he was ashamed, to do. While he hesitated the dogs saw him. First Melampus, a Spartan dog, gave the signal with his bark, then Pamphagus, Dorceus, Lelaps, Theron, Nape, Tigris, and all the rest, rushed after him swifter than the wind. Over rocks and cliffs, through mountain gorges that seemed impracticable, he fled, and they followed. Where he had often chased the stag and cheered on his pack, his pack now chased him, cheered on by his own huntsmen. He longed to cry out, "I am Actaeon; recognize your master!" But the words came not at his will. The air resounded with the bark of the dogs. Presently one fastened on his back, another seized his shoulder. While they held their master, the rest of the pack came up and buried their teeth in his flesh. He groaned, not in a human voice, yet certainly not in a stag's, and, falling on his knees, raised his eyes, and would have raised his arms in supplication, if he had had them. His friends and fellow-huntsmen cheered on the dogs, and looked every where for Actaeon, calling on him to join the sport. At the sound of his name, he turned his head, and heard them regret that he should be away. He earnestly wished he was. He would have been well pleased to see the exploits of his dogs, but to feel them was too much. They were all around him, rending and tearing; and it was not till they had torn his life out that the anger of Artemis was satisfied.

As we saw in the above examples, myths can serve many purposes. Some myths serve to explain natural phenomenons (such as the changing seasons, or storms), to offer comfort and the promise of a life after this one, to shed light on the temperament and nature of the gods, or to simply remind us of historical events which would otherwise be lost to time.

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